Gracias. Alicante & Marbella

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Setting off for some overdue R&R, I was unsure of what to make of my upcoming trip to Alicante and Marbella. Unlike many of my other travel plans, this was very much a girls holiday and from the get-go was intended for minimum culture and maximum sun exposure.

Having just completed my first year in the UK, I was looking forward to defrosting in the Med and easing up the muscles with a lot of swimming.

Flying into Alicante was very straightforward, six of us staying in an apartment owned by one of our group whose family had owned it for generations. The apartment could not have been more perfectly positioned on the coast. In fact we couldn’t really get any closer to the water and the calm serenity of being on the water-front did wonders for getting into holiday mode.

Alicante is not a particularly attractive place, jagged mountain face encircles the area of littered tower blocks that we were staying in but the weather was glorious and the beaches wonderful. Sangria for €2.50, beach beds for €3, wonderful blue waters and dark sand, it couldn’t have been a better place to unwind. We mostly dined in, buying cheap and delicious local wine and cooking ourselves. On a couple of occasions we enjoyed the local cuisine, fresh fish and grilled octopus and then headed further into the town of Alicante to enjoy the local nightlife – sitting in the streets at small and unpretentious bars.

After a couple of days, part two of the adventure began. Hiring a car, we headed south, past Grenada and into ‘Catherine of Aragon’ country. The landscape changed dramatically. Around Alicante, the scenery is quite stark but as we meandered south, the countryside first flattened and then rose into the hills. Oranges, purples and browns, the hilly country opened into olive groves and farmland before rising higher into green trees as we came down the way to Malaga and finally Marbella.

The roads were easy enough to navigate which is just as well as my Spanish is particularly poor and I was a particularly uninterested map-reader on this journey.

Making our way into Puerto Banus, we arrived at our villa about 5 hours after departure. Another Air BnB deal, this was the perfect spot for a girls vacay. We spent most of the time sunbathing and reading copious books, stocking up at the supermarket at the end of the road and generally enjoying each other’s company.

On a couple of occasions we ventured out to explore Marbella’s TOWIE-filled drinking scene making pit-stops at infamous drinking holes Ocean Beach Club, Nikki Beach, La Sala and Funky Buddha. Nikki Beach is a gorgeous beach setting but the type of place that people go to be seen and are prepared to splash the cash and drop €70,000 on a champagne spray to get the party going. Spoilt as it may sound, its not the sort of thing that impresses me anymore – that’s what Dubai living does to you.

There is certainly a particular demographic that is attracted to Puerto Banus and had we more time I’d have loved to explore neighbouring Sotto Grande. Eating out was relatively uninteresting, the seafood was the safest option as it was fresh from the sea but unless you head into Old Town, the food was mostly catered for tourists: hamburgers, chips and pizzas – invariably a menu to soak up the alcohol from the night before.

Puerto Banus itself is quite attractive with fuchsia and purple bougainvillea spilling over gates and walls and frangipani lining the streets.

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The beaches were not particularly impressive, often overcrowded with rocky seabeds but the temperature of the water and the clarity more than made up for it. It was mostly a holiday of self-entertaining and simple pleasures, lots of barbecues and taking the Spanish rhythm of life in our stride.

Whilst I would not hurry back to Marbella, it was a great holiday and gave me exactly what I needed, some time to think, dream, relax and enjoy a good book.

Marbs 2016 from Jessie Staley on Vimeo.

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